How do you respond to your co-workers, family members, or friends on Facebook who throw around Scriptures & ask for prayers, but don't have church family? Let me narrow the question even further: How do you feel about people who don't go to church, do not seem to live a "very Christian life" but act like they have a great relationship with God?
We've all had friends "name-drop" with God before. Oh, simple phrases like, "Pray for me, I'm going through _______, but I know the Big Man upstairs will take care of me." Or, they toss out a passage from the Bible that doesn't really fit the situation everyone is talking about, but they want to seem like they are Biblically literate.
Yet, these people haven't darkened the doorway of any church in quite a while, if ever. They live with someone they aren't married to, wear crosses around their neck over their Metallica tee-shirts, quote Scriptures and hit the local watering-hole on a weekly basis. Does this frustrate you? Seem hypocritical? Do you look down on them?
Here's what I think, and I've thought quite a bit about people who are suffering from a spirituality Arrested-developmental faith:
First of all, we need to make sure we aren't being judgmental. Who are we to question another person's relationship with God? Some people don't attend Sunday services at a "church" because they've been burned by toxic leadership or quaky church members. There are people who don't feel they fit in at a typical church, and it's painful to them, yet they still want to express their faith. And you may say, we know a tree by the fruit it bears... Jesus also said in the same chapter, get the log out of your own eye.
I'd add here too, check your motivations for your righteous-indignation. Are you a little jealous of the freewheeling, carefree lifestyle of the people you are scrutinizing???? So, for starters let's give people the benefit of the doubt that they long to know God too, before we hit them over the head with our Bible, or assign them a seat in Hell.
Secondly, we shouldn't pass up opportunities to encourage these distant-people in our lives, to reengage with the people of God. To find a church home. To worship with others. Why? It's impossible to practice the Christian faith solo. One major example: Communion, the Lord's Supper or the Eucharist, whichever name you label it with, it is a ritual you can't practice alone. IT takes a community of faithful believers to experience the breaking of bread.
It's also impossible to grow spiritually on your own. It can't happen; increasing Biblical knowledge or the activation of the practical daily walk can't happen on our own. We need people to sharpen us, to challenge us, to nurture us, to encourage us. We are a body, that's the metaphor Scripture designated. An amputated limb won't survive. Period.
Third and finally (Nice three points, huh?) How about instead of letting these seemingly less mature, quasi-believers frustrate us, how about we lift them in prayer? Yes, lift these spiritually-disenfranchised people in prayer. We have more of these people in need of our prayers than in need of our disapproval. Jesus embraced the marginal, He ate with them, He loved them, it cost Him His life too.
And, by the way, in case you didn't know, I grew up in an arrested developmental home, spiritually speaking. We didn't attend church services, not even at Christmas or Easter. I heard plenty of Scriptures quoted, some in context, many out of context. I'm glad we were accepted, when as adults Tammy and I finally got our butts out of bed on Sunday mornings & took our kids to Church. I wonder where we'd be today if... well never mind. Be patient with others; you never know what God has in store for them.